By: Alecia Rousseu
More than 70,000 young people are not in education or training and local community groups want to know what the Government is going to do about it.
A candidates meeting at Community House last week focused on education and youth in the city, with concerns raised about youth suicide, gangs, dis-engaged teens and a lack of resources for schools.
Iain Lees-Galloway (Labour), Adrienne Pierce (National), Scott Andrew (Money Free), Thomas Nash (Greens) and Darroch Ball ( New Zealand First) told the crowd they were all committed to doing better in this sector.
Mr Andrews said it was important New Zealand developed an education system for our young ones that instilled values “of an emerging social system”.
He said the future indicated children were going to have to justify why they existed and with an estimated two-thirds of job heading for automation, he added it was vital to address this.
According to Mrs Pierce, National Standards were something National would not scrap despite her opponents saying it failed children.
She said they had a focus on giving every primary school student the opportunity to learn a second language, while also improving their math skills.
She also said mental health was an issue she was focused on, and National was working to understand the core issues in families.
But Mr Lees-Galloway said National Standards were a one-size fits all approach that doesn’t work.
“It’s detrimental to those children who do not meet the standards. Education is the foundation to all … but we need a more holistic approach.”
He talked about his own children, one who was “smashing” National Standards and the other who is coming in under.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep that child engaged. We must get rid of National Standards — it doesn’t measure progress or recognise individual challenges. It sets too many up for failure.”
The Greens promised to build a more inclusive education system that provided children with the ability to think critically and be problem solvers. Mr Nash said they were committed to improving early childhood education and making sure every child went to school having breakfast and lunch.
“Education should be free,” he added.
Mr Ball put the spotlight on the 70,000 youth who were not in education, employment or training (NEET).
“We need a universal approach to education, every child has a right to it.”
He said 40 per cent of those aged between 15 and 17 years old, who experienced a long NEET spell, would end up in the mental health system, while a third would become long-term beneficiaries.
He also said New Zealand’s approach to youth suicide was not hitting the mark.
“Over 600 people shows something’s not working. More than half reached out for help and didn’t get it.”
Source: Manawatu Guardian